Thursday, October 16, 2008

NHS wants to spend $800,000 on a yacht

An NHS primary care trust has come up with a novel - and expensive – approach to improving public health. The East Yorkshire trust, now known as NHS Hull, is proposing to spend $800,000 on buying a yacht. The trust believes that the purchase of the vessel, which would be funded from its surplus of $80 million, would help it to raise standards of public health in the area, which includes the constituency of the Health Secretary, Alan Johnson.

Critics of the plan say that the money could be better spent on more conventional needs, such as improving hospital facilities In a briefing paper to explain the proposal, the trust says that “the NHS is no longer just about providing care to those who are sick”. It argues that “we need to tackle the reasons for illness rather than just tackle the outcomes of ill health”.

A suitable vessel has already been identified. It would sail with a crew of unemployed teenagers into the North Sea and around Scandinavia, as part of a training programme to help them into work. The idea is that they would return from the high seas not only with skills such as navigation and engineering, but an understanding of the benefits of healthy living.

The health authority says that over three years this welfare-to-work scheme would help 450 teenagers to lead healthier lives. The scheme would be funded by One Hull, a body that includes the heads of the council, the police service and NHS Hull, as well as representatives from businesses and voluntary groups. One Hull would be expected to cover the estimated $900,000 a year needed to run the scheme for the next three years.

The plan has come under fierce attack. Steve Brady, the opposition leader on Hull City Council, told The Times: “First of all, you would think that there were other problems, such as single-sex wards, to be addressed in Hull. Secondly, the government quan-go is spending public money running the yacht, when for a comparable amount of money it could be delivering hundreds of apprenticeships in skills that Hull needs.”

The proposal has met with derision in the local community. “I did not know that NHS money was for this sort of thing,” wrote a contributor on one of Hull’s online message boards. “I thought it was to provide medical services when you are ill and needing medical care – not to provide a few youngsters with freebies.”

Kath Lavery, chairman of NHS Hull, defended the scheme. “It’s a massive programme of intervention in young people’s lifestyles and choices,” she said. “It’s about showing young people in Hull there’s something good in life and they can make lifestyle choices which hopefully mean they will go into higher education.”

Hull’s primary care trust has in previous years lent money to struggling health authorities. A sum of $80 million has now been returned to the trust, all of which has to be spent in the next two years. About $20 million has been ploughed into the purchase of a local hospital previously run by a charity [They needed to reduce its standards, I guess] , and $240,000 has been used to refurbish existing hospital buildings.

NHS Hull says that the vessel it is proposing to buy is of the type used in the round-the-world clipper yacht race, which was conceived in 1995 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. The boats used in the first races were known as Clipper 60s and named after the old tea clippers. In 2004 new Clipper 68s, which are 68ft long, were designed and built in Shanghai. The mast is 81ft tall.


British government scraps public examinations for 14-year-olds

Being in favour with the teacher is all that matters now. The teenage years bring big changes. Assessment at this age could detect students who are going off the rails and help them to straighten out

National school testing for 14-year-olds in England is to be scrapped as part of a major shake up of testing in primary and secondary education, the Government announced today. Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said that Key Stage 3 National Curriculum tests, known as Sats, would be replaced by better and more intensive classroom assessment by teachers and more frequent reporting of pupils' progress to parents.

As part of the reforms, an annual School Report Card will be drawn up for every school in England, awarding it a grade from A-F. The report card will show pupil test scores as well as information on attendance, pupil motivation, and other non-academic measures. The report cards replicate a system currently operating in New York City, which provides parents with a "simpler more understandable and more comprehensive view" of individual school performance, Mr Balls told MPs in the House of Commons.

National Key Stage Two testing for 11-year-olds at the end of primary school will remain. A new expert panel will be created to advise on the implementation of the reforms.

The Conservatives welcomed the move, while the National Union of Teachers called for a suspension of all testing in primary schools.

Mr Balls denied that the measures were a U-Turn, but accepted that the decision to scap the Key Stage 3 tests had been based on the view of both head teachers and education experts who believed the tests, introduced by the Conservatives in 1993, had out lived their usefulness. In recent years, Key Stage 3 tests for 14-year-olds have routinely been condemned as unnecessary because GCSEs and A-Level exams already provide an objective and externally marked measure of school performance.

"These reforms will provide more regular and more comprehensive information to parents about their progress, support heads (and) teachers, to make sure that every child can succeed and strengthen our ability to hold all schools to account, as well as the public's ability to hold government to account," Mr Balls said. "Key Stage Two tests are here to stay. They are essential to give parents, teachers and the public the information they need about the progress of every primary aged child and every primary school. "The final year of primary school is critical to prepare children for the step up to secondary school", he said.

More here

UK: Storm over Big Brother database: "Early plans to create a giant `Big Brother' database holding information about every phone call, email and internet visit made in the UK were last night condemned by the Government's own terrorism watchdog. Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, the independent reviewer of anti-terrorist laws, said the `raw idea' of the database was `awful' and called for controls to stop government agencies using it to conduct fishing expeditions into the private lives of the public. Today the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, is expected to signal the Government's intention to press ahead with proposals."

1 comment:

mikemathew said...

Great Britain was in trouble. The soldiers rescued from Dunkirk were exhausted by their ordeal. Worse, most of their heavy armaments lay abandoned and rusting on the French beaches. After a short rest, the Germans began air attacks in early summer designed to seize mastery of the skies over England in preparation for invasion. All that stood between the British and defeat was a small force of RAF pilots outnumbered in the air by four to one.